Thanksgiving Candlelight With My Loved Ones!

Thanksgiving is around the corner, but I’ve been seeing Christmas decorations everywhere for the past three months. Why does commercialism rush into our lives? First Halloween came in a big wave, then a quick peak to Thanksgiving. And then comes Christmas shopping. Many will be more excited about the gifts they receive/give, than in celebrating the miraculous event of Christmas. Actually Christmas is the reason that we celebrate Thanksgiving – It is a time of gratitude for what God has done in the past, what he is doing in the present moment and He will do in the future in our lives.

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It is always appropriate to say a quick prayer before each meal to thank the Lord for His provision (for the table he’s prepared before us). Whenever we do this we acknowledge that He is our loving Father in heaven, the provider of all our gifts. Without gratefulness we become arrogant and self-centered. We start believing the lie that all we have is due to our own efforts. Giving thanks to God keeps us in right relationship with the giver of all good things.

Thanksgivings are a big event in our household. We love to host extended family and friends at our house. When we gather at the candle-lit table, beautifully set for 30 of our loved ones, it is a quite special day for all of us. God invites us to His feast; to His table of thanksgiving. The Lord says, “Do this in remembrance of Me”. (Luke 22:19)
Obviously the Lord is always with us, but on the day of Thanksgiving when I look around, I take a moment and immerse myself with gratitude. As we stand in a big circle holding hands and thanking God for many blessings for he has bestowed upon us, I can feel the presence of God with us. After prayers, we sit down for our meal once again I am aware of the Lord’s presence at our table. He looks at everyone of us with so much love and I see His radiant love in each of us. Although there is a lot of delicious food from two or three different ethnicities, I reflect on the truth that we actually are indulging in a feast of God’ love (food for our souls) more so than on the meal.

We have a tradition to play games after dinner, eating and drinking tea all night long. Everyone talks at the same time, telling jokes with loud laughter, eating sweets and drinking more tea. I know what you’re thinking – we do drink a lot of tea! It is a cultural thing. How can we not be thankful for moments like that? Love, good food, and laughter all at the same time – it is a priceless combination. A moment of glee. A moment of rejoicing with those who rejoice. The candlelight of God’s love burns in the hearts of those who give thanks to His name.

(Psalm 136:1)
“Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for His steadfast love endures forever.”

So the question is: should we only be grateful when everything is glorious and fun or should we lift our eyes toward heaven with thanksgiving even when we’re in distress? The word of God tells us to be thankful in any circumstance. I don’t know what part of the world you are living right now, but we certainly take much for granted here in the western world.

Have you ever experienced living somewhere where you had to heat the water in a small bucket in order to wash yourself in the cold chill of winter? If so, you would likely have a greater appreciation for your daily hot shower available on this side of the world. Or perhaps the task of walking for miles to the market instead of driving to the supermarket to buy a carton of milk. I’m so grateful for God for generously meeting so many of our daily needs.

We have all at times come across people who are unappreciative. Nothing ever makes them happy. For instance, if you give them a gift, it is too small or too big. They focus on the gift, not the heart of the giver. How much happier they would be if they were grateful for the thought rather than the size or brand.

On the other hand, those who have a grateful mindset will most likely experience happiness and be more at ease and content. Don’t you just love being around people who are grateful? You do not have to worry about how they react to what you are able to do for them.

Gratitude to God is encouraged by all religions and all cultures. When someone lacks gratitude, it’s because their focus is centered on their problems. One of the great teachers in our church taught me the following truth: It is the attitude of gratitude that can change lives. It was God’s perfect timing for me to hear that message when I did. One of my loved ones was suffering with an illness. I kept praying for healing, but my prayers were heavy with heartache, worries and question like, “Why, oh why, Lord?” and, “What can I do?” As I began to embrace an attitude of gratitude, the worry, sadness, and heavy heart lost its power over me. As I started thanking God, praising and worshiping Him instead of complaining, not only did I receive the peace of God, but also my love one’s suffering began to lessen. We all have a propensity to get worried when we have no control over certain situations.We must remember however, that the lower we bow before Him with a thankful heart, the higher He lifts us up.

(Philippians 4:6)
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Someone once asked me, “How can you thank God when you’re in the midst of turmoil?” I said, “Let’s look at the choices I have. I can be miserable, worried and angry. Or, I can give up my ways and surrender to the One who is in charge of every breath I take.” It’s very difficult to praise and thank God in the midst of turmoil, when you or your loved ones are suffering and nothing seems within your control. We are not thanking him for our pains and adversity, but we acknowledge that He is sovereign and He will never leave us or forsake us. We are thanking Him because He is a good and loving God and He will use our situation for His purposes, bringing good out of even bad circumstances.

Of course, surrendering with thankfulness is a battle that we all struggle with, yet gratefulness brings us first to salvation, and then to an ever deepening level of relationship with God. As a result, we will feel His peace and find rest – a place of rest where God has our back. God doesn’t want to be involved in just one area of our lives, He wants us to submit completely and utterly, with every ounce of our whole being to Him. Give Him the sacrifice of thanksgiving. When we bring our sacrifice of thankfulness and gratitude, we will see His abundant blessings in our lives.

(1 Thessalonians 5:18)
“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”

I’m grateful for God’s grace, mercy, forgiveness, love, and freedom from the shackles of this world! What are you grateful for?

 

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The Home Of Wisdom!

Where can we find wisdom and how can we get it? Can we buy it? Who has it? Can we borrow it? Can we imitate it or act like we have it? Is it a she or he? Or is it a city where all the wise people live? And can wisdom be as same as the knowledge?

Certainly If we look hard enough, wisdom is not that far from us. The home of wisdom is within us. It is a hidden treasure in the depth of our souls, where God dwells. When we do not put any effort to look for this hidden fortune, we can experience confusions.

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Once I had the opportunity to have a heart to heart talk with someone who I knew as a casual friend. I was very saddened as she shared her experience about her confusion and how she was stuck in this mournful place in her life. She didn’t know how to free herself from that dark and dingy prison. As she was telling me her heartbreaking story, I could imagine her sitting in this cold dungeon shackled up with her own demons and unfortunate circumstances in her life, without any hope.
Obviously she was in need of help and clarity to see how much God loves her. She was longing for some words of wisdom. The only help I could offer her was what I had read in the book of Proverbs (Wisdom). She asked: ” What kind of book is it, and where can I find it?” I told her: “it’s one of the books in the Bible.”
Prophet Solomon (his name in some other languages is Prophet Sulaiman) who wrote the book of “Proverbs – Wisdom”. I told her that only God can help her. All she needs to do is to turn to Him and He will enlighten her heart with wisdom and lead her into the life that she never thought she could have.

God blessed Solomon with wisdom, which that was the only thing he asked God to bless him. In his book chapter 8 he refers to wisdom as a she. Obviously he doesn’t mean it literally. He’s using it as a figure of speech. It’s not a she or he, it’s a character. Solomon describes wisdom in the character of two types of women. One is a Lady of Wisdom who is a noble and unblemished, sinless, and the purity of her beauty (the cleanliness of her heart and mind) is mostly attractive. And, he defines another woman as a foolish woman who is godless and immoral and her path leads to death. In Proverbs 2: 17 he says: “She forgets the covenant her God”. Solomon says so much about the Lady of Wisdom. We must read the book of Proverbs in the Bible to see and learn how beautifully he gives a clear picture how to gain wisdom.

With that in mind, wisdom is not a one-shot thing we ask God, although it was for Prophet Solomon. Speaking from my personal experience I must ask God for wisdom every day in everything. Well, it is easier said than done. Do I remember to ask God for good judgment in everything I do? Unfortunately, no. I forget sometimes either because I am in hurry or the circumstances forced me to make an impulse decision. Then I dread the result because of lack of wisdom. At least I recognize my mistake now and it is a work in progress. Trying to remember to take a few minutes and go over it with my Heavenly counselor.

I don’t know about you, but I am more attracted to a wise person who may not have a diploma or any kind of degree than someone whose wall of fame is richly covered with honorable prestiges but does not use them wisely.

Speaking of Lady of Wisdom, remind me someone that I dearly loved and respected – an elderly woman who was in our close family circle (RIP to her soul). She didn’t have any degrees or diploma, but she was wiser than any highly educated ones I knew. God truly had blessed her with the gift of wisdom. It does not matter what religion she was, in fact she knew the Old Testament by heart. She meditated on God’s commands day and night. Her advice was precious to her children and to those around her. If we look at the lives of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph, we would see they did not have college degrees. But they were blessed with wisdom.
We do not know some of God’s mysterious way in how He dwells in each person’s heart and mind. He reveals Himself to each and every one of us in a special way that no one can understand. Those who dwell in His presence and fear Him will be blessed with God’s knowledge, such a knowledge will give birth to wisdom.

The book of Proverbs 1:7 Solomon says; “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.”

We may say: how could the fear of God be the beginning of knowledge? This kind of fear is unlike the fear of natural disasters, evildoers, or other devastating storms in our lives. To fear God is a positive and healthy fear and it means to reverence, to respect Him. Such a fear comes from reading His word; His word makes us to be insightful to His wisdom.

So then what is the difference between wisdom and knowledge? Wisdom is the quality of having experience and good judgment – the quality of being wise. It is the ability determining what is right, true and lasting. And it is the voice of a reason. Knowledge is equally important as wisdom, which is gaining information through education, researches, and other academic sources. Using an example to simplify the difference between the two; knowledge says the stove is on, and wisdom says don’t touch it.

It is  great to have an education, but if we do not know how to use it, it will not do us any good. Through Knowledge we read the entire Bible, memorize the verses and the Ten Commandments; through wisdom we obey them. Knowledge says who God is and wisdom says to love Him and worship Him.

Wisdom is a gift from God. It’s based on His absolute love for us that He gives us free will to choose the way of “wisdom”or our ways “the foolish way”. In James 1:5 says: “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.”

When God sees that we are seeking His discernment, He will light in up His light within us, pointing us to the right path, then we will be able to draw out and bring it to the surface. We have to wait patiently for Him to do so. He gives us wisdom, and does so abundantly when we ask Him. If we do not pay attention to God or ignore His gifts, then we will lack wisdom and darkness will be hovering over our lives. Sometimes we may fool ourself to think what we are about to do it is the right thing. Then we will find ourself disappointed, and more in trouble.

One of the lessons that I have learnt from wise teachers “If I want to gain wisdom, I must listen the most and talk the least”. Believe me, I am practicing It. I love listening to those who actually “lived a life” – not a life of living in a perfect bubble, but a savage life with many ups and downs. Because I could see as a result, they learned from their mistake and became secure, wise and confident, yet living a humble life. When I hear people say: “Oh, so and so is very attractive or sexy.” I think the most sexiest and attractive person is the one who is wise and walks with integrity. Furthermore, their hearts are overflowing with love and respect for others. I would love to hang out with them or maybe grab a lunch.

Derron E. Short said:
“God wants you to move to a town called Wisdom because the people who live there they learned from their mistakes.”

In order for us to live a life of harmony (somewhat balanced) and integrity, it only takes to build such a life, brick by brick, with wisdom. God graciously wants us to have knowledge of Him and His commands. So that we could gain wisdom and live a blameless life. Reverentially fear of the Lord helps us to gain wisdom, which bring everything align with His will.

Don’t you think it’s time for some of us to stop going aimlessly in a circle and go visit the city of wisdom and listen to the voice of a reason? What do you think?

Ecclesiastes 10:10 says like this:
“Using a dull ax requires great strength, so sharpen the blade. That’s the value of wisdom; it helps you succeed.”